Does anyone not want to be a pop star? I recently heard the new tracks on Tim Exile’s myspace and he sounds like Calvin Harris. Well, that’s perhaps something of an exaggeration but electro-pop with lyrics about the credit crunch is about as far from the chaotically playful breakcore which typified his 2006 masterpiece, Nuisance Gabbaret Lounge (track title example: ‘Tirade Of Abuse From A Sweaty Cunt’) as it’s possible to get without unplugging the laptop. He’s going the way of Drop The Lime, who a couple of years ago vowed never to return to the amen breaks and concern himself only with bassline and dubstep topped off with his ‘soulful’ vocals. Seriously, what with this and Squarepusher’s recent glam-rock posturing with Just A Souvenir it’s hard not to imagine what’s next, Autechre as The Proclaimers? Aphex as Timbaland?
It’s times like this that one should be thankful for men like Mike Paranidas a.k.a. µ-Ziq, the C.E.O. of Planet Mu and late-nineties IDM pioneer consistently displaying a dedication to doggedly dig out the best in genuinely interesting and challenging electronic music.
Eero Johannes, one of his latest signings, is a major proponent of skweee which, apparently, in Nordic countries is an electronic music movement analogous to Britain’s dubstep explosion. It was clear that insidious dark bass music would never really catch on in the lands of the multicoloured sweater though, and skweee (as the almost gratingly sunny etymological demeanour of the word would imply) is anything but either of those adjectives.
Musically placing himself somewhere between the late nineties breakdance music revival spearheaded by artists such as DMX Krew and the Sheffield synthpop inspired avant-techno of snd, Johannes would certainly have been acceptable in the eighties, and thus with his arpeggiated melody lines and relatively simple yet effective drum programming (especially in the tenth track ‘Mantik’) calls to mind the similarly retro-centric chiptuners such as Nullsleep or Bit Shifter.
Essentially, though, his sound is to old-school electro what minimal is to techno, paring the genre down to its basic components in his bleep-and-beat compositions. The only vocals on the record appear within its first eight minutes and are the pitch-shifted samples in ‘Lipton Service Boy’ and the computer-generated speech in ‘Hal Manifesto’ (neither of which is exactly singalong material).
Elsewhere, the record ventures into other musical territories, for instance the hilariously monikered ‘We Could Be Skweeeroes’ and ‘Natt I Spårvagnen’, with their lowslung tempos and the former’s languid bass-guitar fingering (the only evidence on the record of Johannes’ past as a bassist who got kicked out of his band for playing too many solos), come off as the kind of nerd take on G-Funk which Hot Chip sometimes specialise in. Also, ironically considering my early usage of the genre as a counterpoint to the music, Finnrexin borrows liberally from dubstep in its rumbling 2-step percussion, calling to a mind a Vex’d who you wouldn’t be scared to leave with your granny.